Anyone who is familiar with the works and times of Sherlock Holmes or Charles Dickens will recognize the culture and characters within our latest eResource archive, Crime, Punishment and Popular Culture, 1790-1920.
The industrial revolution had seen people rush to cities to chase a better standard of living that never eventuated. More often than not, workers were forced to live in squalid conditions with little reward for long and dangerous working conditions. Not surprisingly, crime soared. Throughout the 19th century major trials were followed avidly in the courtroom, in the newspapers, and at public hangings. True crime literature captured the attention of all classes, with murder ballads and penny dreadfuls sold in the streets. The development of the police force, particularly detectives and forensic techniques, were also subjects of interest. At the same time the judicial and penal systems were being reformed which led to such practices as transportation to the colonies.
This digital archive covers all of these developments and more with a broad examination of crime and culture in the 19th and early 20th century. It reflects the causes and effects of the rise in crime, the development of the police and the public’s fascination with sensational accounts of crime. It also contains a searchable collection of materials from prisoner photographs to trial transcripts and police records. It even has police gazettes from Queensland, Australia. These gazettes contain fascinating content including information on convicts and criminals who absconded from prison, reports on criminal activities such as murder, and reports on missing friends and relatives. So if you are interested in this time period, the development of the judicial system we can recognise today, or maybe just looking for dodgy relatives then there is plenty to learn and enjoy from this archival gem.